What is Renewable Energy?
Renewable energy is referred to as the power harnessed by natural resources that have the ability to replenish themselves. In other words, the resources which occur naturally for example, wind, sunlight, tides, waves and geothermal heat. Renewable energy can be classified as follows; solar energy, nuclear energy, hydroelectric energy, wind energy and biofuel (or biomass).
They create negligible environmental pollution, or are emission-free, which is why they are preferred over non-renewable energy sources today. They are affordable, create employment opportunities and are, in some cases, quite efficient. Renewable Energy is used as an alternative to reduce the dependency upon fossil fuels since they damage the environment a lot by causing global warming.
Fossil fuels, when burned, emit toxic gasses including carbon dioxide which leads to air pollution and hence global warming. The human health and the environment is damaged as sometimes the crude oil is spilled while transportation causing air, soil and mainly water pollution. To save our fragile planet earth, we need to look for alternative and reliable energy sources which have lower risk to our health and are environmentally sound.
Let’s explore 20 facts about renewable energy
1. Power of Solar Energy
If the solar energy is harnessed and used properly, it can produce enough energy to fulfill the demand for the whole world for a whole year. There are many ways we can use the sun to harvest energy. One of the major ways of harnessing solar energy are solar powered panels, others include solar water heaters. The sun’s rays hit the panels; the electrons present in the silicon cells make electricity (You can also learn more about how solar panels produce electricity). This electricity can power our homes and businesses.
2. The world’s leader in wind power generation is China
The statistics show that in every 60 minutes, China builds two more turbines. China has more than 92000 turbines as of now. Wind farms in China are capable of generating more than 149 Gigawatts of electricity, which is twice that of United States. China hasn’t stopped there; by 2020, they aim to produce 2 GW from Solar energy, 30GW from Biomass energy, 30GW from wind energy and finally 75GW from hydroelectricity power plants to be able to fulfill one-fifth of the country’s energy demand from renewable energy sources.
3. 5% of total America’s energy comes from Biomass
The United States of America uses biomass to make 5% of its energy, which is sourced from biofuels (47%), 44% from wood or wood-related products and around 10% from municipal waste (garbage). Hence, Bio products and wood products like paper are a primary renewable source of biomass. A plant known as Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in South lowa provides most of the biomass for the production of electricity. Other sources of biomass are landfills and dairy farms to make electricity in other parts of the United States.
4. First commercial offshore turbine was built 30 years ago!
Siemens, a multinational conglomerate company, built the first commercial offshore wind turbine almost 30 years ago! The blades of the wind turbine were 5 meters long; producing only 30 kilowatts of power. The latest model created has 75 meter long blades, producing 6 megawatts that’s enough to power 6000 homes.
5. Solar Impulse 2 was a major leap in ‘green’ aviation
The first plane to get powered by renewable energy sources was the Solar Impulse 2. It completed its world tour landing in 2015 in Abu Dhabi. It was the first in the history of aviation. In 1990, similar attempts were made when a solar-powered plane flew in the United states using no fuel at all. You can also read more about the history of solar energy.
6. The largest wind turbine is 200 ft high!
The largest wind turbine in the world is 20 stories high and has blades with the length of a football pitch and is located in Hawaii. The energy produced from wind power has the potential to provide all of the electricity in the sector. The USA and the state of Hawaii plan to obtain 100% of Hawaii’s electricity consumption from renewable energy sources by 2045.
7. Renewable Energy Sources are consistently replenished
The major renewable resources include: solar, wind, water, biofuel and geothermal. All of these sources are continually replenished. All these renewable energy sources are derived naturally from natural sources and can be replenished easily.
8. Hopefully, 100% on renewable energy sources by 2050
By 2050 the whole planet would get all its power from renewable sources, ending our reliance on fossil fuels and other depleting energy resources. This is only possible when financial, political and societal decisions are made quickly and correctly.
9. Solar discovery was made in small steps
Albert Einstein was awarded with a Nobel Prize in physics for his discoveries on the photoelectric effect in 1921. In 1839, French physicist Edmond Bacquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect while experimenting with a cell made of metal electrodes in a conducting solution (Electrolyte). This gave birth to a new idea when the cell started to produce more electricity as it got exposed to light.
10. We might soon have Eco-friendly internet
Major tech giants such as google, facebook and apple are using renewable energy sources to power the web and are called Green internet which is a more eco friendly approach taken by them.
11. Geothermal energy has the largest reserves!
The resource base for geothermal energy in the world is larger than the resource base for coal, gas, oil and uranium combined. It is located North of San Francisco, California stretching up to 121km. It is the biggest geothermal installation in the world. It has around 18 power plants with production capability of 900 MW and 1517 MW of installed capacity.
12. Water is the largest renewable energy resource
Water is the most used renewable energy resource in the world. It is estimated that water alone can produce enough energy for the consumption of power for 28.3 million people through multiple ways including Hydroelectric Power and Tidal energy. Hydroelectricity power generation has up to 90% efficiency.
13. The Largest Hydroelectric power plant is present in China!
The hydroelectric power plant in Yichang, Hubei province, China named as the ‘tree gorge’ is the largest hydroelectric station in the whole world. It provides 22500MW of energy. It uses the water from the Yangtze River which is one of the most polluted rivers in the World.
14. A wind turbine produces enough energy to power a whole village!
One modern wind turbine is enough to generate electricity to power around 1400 homes. However, the total count may vary according to the wind speeds in the area. An onshore wind turbine of about 2.5-3 MW capacity can produce more than 6 million kWh in one year.
15. The heat from the Earth’s core produces geothermal energy!
The hot molten core of the earth produces geothermal energy. The magma is found a few miles beneath the ground. The heat of the magma is used for the production of steam which results in the generator to rotate its blades and produce electricity.
16. Fewer subsidies in Renewable Energy Sector
When compared to fossil fuels, renewable resources of energy get few subsidies. Despite the damage fossil fuels do to the environment, it gets considerably more subsidies than renewable sources of energy. However, there are changes being made to that as the countries become increasingly aware to the benefits of renewable energy development.
17. Green Energy resources are booming today!
Green or Clean energy ratio to fossil fuels has increased to 3:1 since the alternative sources of energy were discovered. It also created more jobs because its demand rose significantly. It doesn’t just benefit the humans, but it also benefits the environment.
18. Green Energy wins the reliability race!
The power grid is less reliable when compared to green energy. The power grid fluctuates at times which makes it an unreliable system. Green energy uses a multi-source power generation from solar, wind, hydroelectricity and whatnot, which makes it much more reliable.
19. Hydropower initially started as ‘water wheels’
The earliest form of generating hydro power was ‘water wheels’. They were used to generate power in ancient times. They can still be used within the household and are sometimes found on the countryside.
20. Renewable energy sources are cheap!
In many countries, renewable energy is much cheaper than other alternatives. It is cheap because of its ability to harness different sources of energy. Renewable energy has become the cheapest way to generate electricity in rural areas and remote off-grid areas.